Recurrent microdeletions of 8p23.1 that include GATA4 and SOX7 confer a high risk of both congenital diaphragmatic hernia (CDH) and cardiac defects. Although GATA4-deficient mice have both CDH and cardiac defects, no humans with cardiac defects attributed to GATA4 mutations have been reported to have CDH. We were also unable to identify deleterious GATA4 sequence changes in a CDH cohort. This suggested that haploinsufficiency of another 8p23.1 gene may contribute, along with GATA4, to the development of CDH. To determine if haploinsufficiency of SOX7-another transcription factor encoding gene-contributes to the development of CDH, we generated mice with a deletion of the second exon of Sox7. A portion of these Sox7δex2/+ mice developed retrosternal diaphragmatic hernias located in the anterior muscular portion of the diaphragm. Anterior CDH is also seen in Gata4+/- mice and has been described in association with 8p23.1 deletions in humans. Immunohistochemistry revealed that SOX7 is expressed in the vascular endothelial cells of the developing diaphragm and may be weakly expressed in some diaphragmatic muscle cells. Sox7δex2/δex2 embryos die prior to diaphragm development with dilated pericardial sacs and failure of yolk sac remodeling suggestive of cardiovascular failure. Similar to our experience screening GATA4, no clearly deleterious SOX7 sequence changes were identified in our CDH cohort. We conclude that haploinsufficiency of Sox7 or Gata4 is sufficient to produce anterior CDH in mice and that haploinsufficiency of SOX7 and GATA4 may each contribute to the development of CDH in individuals with 8p23.1 deletions.

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Journal Human Molecular Genetics
Wat, M.J, Beck, T.F, Hernéndez-García, A, Yu, Z, Veenma, D.C.M, Garcia, M, … Scott, D.A. (2012). Mouse model reveals the role of SOX7 in the development of congenital diaphragmatic hernia associated with recurrent deletions of 8p23.1. Human Molecular Genetics, 21(18), 4115–4125. doi:10.1093/hmg/dds241